It was unclear Saturday just what to expect from the Soroco High School girls basketball team.
Sure, the Panthers were mired in a season-long slump, picking up their first win only the night before, against Hayden. But the Rams weren’t too good themselves Friday, with half the starting lineup slowed by sickness.
Turns out, whatever bug infected the Soroco roster didn’t do enough to keep Saturday’s game close. The Rams ran away with it, 68-23.
“That was a good win,” coach David Bruner said. “Now we have four games left. We need to keep playing well so we can play at home that last Tuesday to get to the district tournament.”
Soroco needs every win it can to separate it from the murky middle of this year’s Western Slope Conference. Meeker, Paonia and Hotchkiss have established their spots at the top.
Soroco is hoping for a top-half finish. With games remaining against North Park, West Grand, Plateau Valley and Hayden — three of which the Rams already have beaten once — those chances look good.
Saturday certainly didn’t offer any trouble.
Rangely hit a shot at the buzzer in the first quarter to knot things at 9-9. It was all Soroco after that.
The Panthers didn’t score again until late in the second quarter. Soroco got an offensive rebound and two points from Jacey Schlegel, a 3-point shot and another closer swoosh from Hayley Johnson and, capping the first half, a banked-in trey from Morgan George to set the score at 29-13 going into halftime.
“That was one of our first smooth games in a while. It was good for the team to have that again,” Soroco’s Jessica Rossi said. “Our guards were really killing it out by the 3, and when we had it underneath, we were doing pretty good, too.”
Rossi helped carry the team in the third quarter. She scored eight of her game-high 19 points before Kellen Garrity made it 53-17 with two free throws at the end of the period.
Finally, in the fourth, DaKota Bruner drilled two 3-point shots and Schlegel added one. Each finished with 16 points.
Throughout the game, Soroco’s defense dictated how things went. They fed off turnovers, pulling down pass after pass in a full-court press.
“We played great on defense, but that’s something we still want to work on,” David Bruner said.